NY Times Reporter: Untold story of Fukushima is the radiation issue, gov’t doesn’t want us talking about it; A lot going on that’s never reported by media — Afraid of being imprisoned under Japan’s new secrecy law; All officials have to do is say the info is secret (AUDIO)
April 25th, 2014
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan — “The Correspondents’ Table” podcast, March 2014:
At 52:00 — Host: Is there an untold story about Tohoku that you… believe should be told?
Martin Fackler of the New York Times Pulitzer-Prize nominated reporting team: Yeah… it’s so hard in Japan to talk about the radiation issue, like how bad is it really… There is a sense that if you even talk about these issues, you’re hurting the poor people of Fuksuhima. Therefore, we shouldn’t talk about it. That’s just not right… The folks who don’t want us to talk about it are the government, because they don’t want to pay compensation… I feel like there is a lot going on in Fukushima that just doesn’t get talked about in the local media, not necessarily for government cover-up sort of issues, but self restraint or self censorship. Even papers that are pretty strong in their reporting on Tepco in some ways, like the Tokyo Shimbun, won’t talk about these issues because they’re afraid that somehow its unpatriotic to talk about radiation. There’s a lot of questions and issues that are not being talked about, and I think they should be talked and if there is damage to the people of Fukushima that’s the responsibility of Tepco…
Host: Are you at all afraid of this new secrecy law affecting your sources, for example, on the nuclear issues?
Fackler: Yeah, I am — the government gives us reassurances… My biggest concern is none of these protections of journalism that bureaucrats give you, these verbal reassurances that journalists won’t be affected by the law, none of them are in writing. The law itself doesn’t contain any of these reassurances, so we get these verbal reassurances: “It’s not aimed at journalists; it’s not aimed at journalism; it’s not aimed at transparency and public discourse.” But if you look at the law, none of that is in there. The law actually leaves a lot of leeway, that if somebody else were to interpret that a different way, you actually could throw people in prison. All the government has to do is say this is a secret and your source gets put into prison and perhaps you as well. It does worry me that the language is so broad and so vague that it could be taken a different way very easily.